3rd Friday in Ordinary Time, Yr 1, Optional Memorial of Saint Angela Merici,
January 27, 2023
Heb: 10:32-39; Ps 37:3-6, 23-24, 39-40; Mk 4:26-34
I have a friend who is suffering immensely from cancer. Yet through it all, he bears witness to the glory of God. He said, “It is through my suffering, that I believe someone will seek and find the Lord.” This man could write volumes about how to live a life of faith, and how planting a small seed can bring miraculous results. God only knows how his bout with cancer will end up, but this man firmly believes that regardless of what happens to him, his experience will bring salvation to others. He is a living example of the suffering servant. While he is concerned about himself, he is also equally, if not more, concerned about those around him who are suffering with a wounded soul. St. Paul reminds the Hebrews of this today when he says, “We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.” Jesus reminds us often that to follow Him, we must accept the persecution and suffering that will become us. I pray my friend’s earthly life is spared, but in either outcome, I believe he will gain the life Paul was speaking of.
Jesus also speaks to us again today in parables. St. Mark, the writer, may not have fully understood Jesus’ message as we interpret it today. But Mark knew that Jesus’ ministry was at its very beginning and that Christianity, or “The Way,” as it was called, would soon spread out across the world. From those small beginnings, the seeds were planted, and then they began to grow and spread.
Theologians talk about this parable as four sections, comparing them to the Kingdom of God. The seeds are the kingdom prepared for us. The growing of the seeds is us seeking the kingdom. The harvest is us bringing others to Christ (and the kingdom). And lastly, the branches with the birds are the Kingdom of heaven at hand or present now for us. It is our everlasting home waiting for us to come and rest in the branches.
Christ’s Kingdom on earth grew mysteriously, but it could not happen without help, our help. God nourishes it, and we spread it. Like a mustard seed that starts out small, and then grows into a large bush, strong enough to support a flock of birds, so, too, should we spread the good news of the kingdom here on earth. Then we, too, will become among those who have faith and will possess life.